Azure Service & Storage Management Tools

In your day-to-day efforts to build a cloud service on Windows Azure, it’s crucial to be aware of the currently available tools that will facilitate your job and makes you more productive. I’ve created a table that will illustrate the different aspect of each tool, then I expressed my opinion about each one of them.

Azure Tools Table

See the table in Zoom.it

UI tools

Cloud Storage Studio

A tool developed by a company called Cerebrata, It’s currently my favorite tool which I extensively use for service management and browsing storage accounts. Even though the name is confusing, the interface is really nice, the application is stable and the team is very receptive of feedback . The only thing that annoys me, I can’t retrieve storage accounts information. Plus, it’s not for free but the team is actively adding new features and rolling fixes.

UPDATE 5/29/2011: The team read my blog post and they implemented the ability to retrieve storage accounts information. Now, I wish I had the ability to right click on a certain storage account and connect to it.

Windows Azure MMC tool

It has the richest set of utilities and It’s for FREE. Now, If you can bite on the wound and accept a blend interface, plus you expect it to hang here and there, then this tool if for you. Also note, that the tool is lightly maintained and I’m not aware of any planned new releases.

Azure Diagnostics Manager

Another tool developed by Cerebrata. This tool is more focused on managing your diagnostics. It includes a bunch of utilities that will definitely help you a lot in browsing through the logs, getting performance counters, trying to figure out some weird issue…etc It also includes a storage explorer (that I haven’t used because I already have Cloud Storage Studio)

UPDATE 5/29/2011: I’ve been using this tool more lately, and besides the fact that it gets stuck when I connect to a certain storage account once in a while, it’s very useful, and I really like the graphs that gets generated for the performance counters over time.

Visual Studio Tools For Azure

There are multiple parts: It has a nice interface for configuring your service. You’re able to build, package and deploy your service when you ask Visual Studio to publish your app. You can also build, package and run locally in devFabric. There is also a readonly storage explorer. The downside is that you can’t manage your services or storage data but I believe there are plans to allow you to (at least for storage data)

Windows Azure Portal

The portal is required for many things that are usually done very rarely like creating and deleting a storage account. It’s slow and poor on features, but there was an announcement at PDC2010 that there will be a redesigned portal built on top of Silverlight.

Cloud Storage Studio /e

A web based storage explorer built by Cerebrata. It’s still in beta and for free. I personally haven’t used it in a while.

UPDATE 5/29/2011

Thanks to all the readers that brought to my attention other tools that I’ve missed, here’s another set of tools:

Azure Storage Explorer

A FREE open source tool published on codeplex that allows you to manipulate your Azure Blob, Queue and Table storage Smile

AzureXplorer

Developed by a company called clumsyleaf, it’s a paid product and I haven’t used it myself but it’s worth checking it out, it might suite your needs, check out the website for all the details/screenshots/pricing …

CloudXplorer

A Clumsyleaf free product, it let’s you browse through your Azure blob storage account in a similar fashion as the Windows file system explorer.

TableXplorer

Another Clumsyleaf free product, it offers a simple way to retrieve your Azure tables.

Windows Azure SCOM Management Pack

Here’s a nice blog post that enumerates the features of the SCOM (System Center Operations Manager) Management Pack for Windows Azure.

As far as I’m aware, it’s currently the only enterprise level monitoring tool for Windows Azure. If you’re already using SCOM then it’s perfect, you can immediately start monitoring your Azure services.

Here’s what I really like about it :

  • Setup alerts to get notifications by email, phone call, IM, … for the following cases:
    • Service status changed .
    • Performance counters crossed some specific threshold.
    • A Windows Event with a certain ID is detected.
    • Critical, Error, … logs are observed in the logs store.
    • and more…

What I don’t like about it:

  • You need to have a SCOM license to be able to use the Management Pack.
  • If you’re not familiar with SCOM, I found it cumbersome to set it up.

Script based tools

Windows Azure Service Management Cmdlets

Even though I haven’t wrote any scripts that make use of the cmdlets, I know the test and operations team rely on them to automate different kinds of services management.

Azure Management Cmdlets

Didn’t also get the chance to play with it, but I believe it’s very similar to the Windows Azure Service Management Cmdlets. I’ll leave it for you to figure the difference :)

Azure SDK command line tools

The SDK command line tools are essentials for automation. There are multiple ways you can find those tools useful, I’ll name a couple 1) Write a custom script that will allow you to package then run your service locally (or perform other actions) using cspack.exe and csrun.exe. 2) Integrate cspack.exe part of your build system to automate packaging the service.

13 thoughts on “Azure Service & Storage Management Tools”

    1. Ohh wow, Azure Storage Explorer was one of the first tools that I was using, but I felt like it was abandoned since there was no update for almost a year. It’s definitely going to be added in my post update, I’ll play with it first to checkout any new exciting features.

  1. Phil, to answer your question – AzureOps from Opstera (www.opstera.com) is a Zero Install cloud based Windows Azure Monitoring and Dynamic Scaling solution. Please check us out http://www.opstera.com/blog/ and get a free trial to try us out in less than 5 mts.

    AzureOps power some of Azure’s largest and most complex applications.

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